Softball, Baseball Explore Joint Olympics Return

(ATR) The international federations for softball and baseball may join forces to get their sports back on the Olympic program.

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(ATR) The international federations for softball and baseball may join forces to get their sports back on the Olympic program.

"Maybe it can work," International Softball Federation President Don Porter tells Around the Rings after a joint statement was released Friday from the ISF and the International Baseball Federation.

Baseball and softball were removed from the Olympics post-Beijing after failing to win enough votes from the IOC at its 2005 Session.

Porter tells ATR that he and IBAF President Riccardo Fraccari met in New York this week to forge a consensus on moving ahead. Porter says he and Fraccari are due to meet again April 4 in London where both will attend the SportAccord convention.

"Mindful of the concerns and pressures facing the IOC and the [local organizing committees], the IBAF and ISF are analyzing the savings and the reduced impact that may be derived from a combined proposal that women's softball and men's baseball share a venue and share space in the Olympic Village for the Summer Games in 2020," the statement reads.

Ever since he became IBAF President two years ago, Fraccari has urged softball to consider an Olympic merger – sharing the same venues – but remaining separate federations. Men would play baseball, women softball.

Porter has resisted such an arrangement in the past.

"It would be helpful to both of us," Porter now concedes.

"But we must keep separate identities, bothus feel that way," says Porter.

Porter says both sports need to explore how the IOC might feel about such an arrangement.

A tie vote by the IOC in 2005 dropped softball from the London program; baseball fell short by four votes. In 2009, a push for a return to the 2016 Olympics fell short as well, with rugby and golf added to the program.

The IOC will decide in 2013 whether to add any sports in time for the 2020 Summer Games. It's expected that there will be room for only one to join the program, which is currently capped at 28 sports.

Written and reported in London by Ed Hula.

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